Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 108 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 108 of 193)
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The bridge is a covered structure of wood, six hun-
dred and thirty feet in length, in three spans, stand-
ing on two piers in the river between the abutments.
For almost half a century it has stood firm against
the ice and the numerous great floods in the Monon-
gahela, the most remarkable of which was, perhaps,
that which reached its most dangerous point on the 6th
of April, 1852.' The bridge has always been a very
profitable investment to the stockholders, but more
particularly so in the palmy days of the National
road, before the railways had diverted its travel and
traffic into other channels.

^ Tliis fact, with many others noted in tlrese pages, was olitaineil from
tlie diarj- of that veteran citizen of Biidgeport and Briiwnsville, Robert



The first officers of the company were George Hogg,
president; Thomas McKennan, secretary ; James L.
Bowman, treasurer. Mr. Hogg was succeeded in the
presidency by James L. Bowman, whose successor is
George E. Hogg. The following-named gentlemen are
the present (1881) officers : Managers, George E. Hogg
(president), J. W. Jeffries, Capt. Adam Jacobs, Eli J.
Bailey, N. B. Bowman, Joseph T. Rogers, George W.
Lenhart; Secretary and Treasurer, William Ledwith.

Tlie several bridges built across Dunlap's Creek,
connecting Bridgeport and Brownsville, have been no-
ticed in the history of the last-named borough.


In the extracts given in preceding pages from the
journal of Robert Rogers it is narrated that about
theyear ISll Daniel French came from Philadelphia
to Bridgeport, " with big schemes of manufacturing,
steamboat building, and navigating Western waters,"
and that some of the most influential and well-to-do
citizens of liridgejiort, Brownsville, and the vicinity
became so impressed with the apparent feasibility of
his projects that they subscribed liberally to the stock
of two conijianies which were formed, one for manu-
facturing, and the other lor the building and running
of steamboats.

The latter company commenced operations without
much delay, building two steamboats, the "Enter-
under the ^U|irrinte.i.lrnre of l.rael (iii-g, Henry SI.
Shreve,' and Daniel rrcuch, on the bank of the river,
above Dunlap's Creek, the ground on which Gregg
built in the next year the warehouse wdiich afterwards
came into [.nssession of the borough. The "Dis-
patch" was built on the spot where the " .Monument
Mills" of Mason, R..gers cV Co. now ^tand. The en-
gines of both the " Ijnterprise" and " Disjiatch" wt-re
built by Daniel French. The career of the former
boat is thus mentioned in the journal of Mr. Rogers:

" In 1814 the largest of the two boats (the ' Enter-
prise') was sent to New Orleans, with Henry M.
Shreve as captain. She arrived there when Gen.
Jackson's army was there, and was pressed into gov-
ernment service to carry troops and stores, and con-
tinued to do so till the close of the war. Then Shreve
started with her for Pittsburgh with considerable
money, but on the way up the boat Was robbed (as
he saidi of all her money. She finally arrived at
Pittsburgh, and the company got possession of her
again. Then they employed Israel Gregg as captain.
He ran her for a time, but made no money, though
freight and passage was high. The company then
chartered her to James Tonilinson, who put his son-

1 A son of Col. Israel Shreve, who comDianfled a regiment of New
Jei-sey troops in the Continental line in the war of the Kevolutiou, anfl
whn, after the close of the war, eniigrated from that State to Fayette
Comity, Pa., locating in what is now Uie township of Terry, on lands
puichiised by him from Geu. Washingluu.

in-law, Daniel Worley, on her as captain, but he
made no money, and let the boat sink (a short dis-
j tance below the Falls of the Ohio), so the company
lost both the money and charter." The " Enterprise,"
j of Bridgeport, was the first steamer that ever made
I the trip from Pittsburgh to New Orlearis and return.
The company's other boat, the "Dispatch," is de-
scribed by Mr. Rogers (who was employed on board
of her in her first trip down the river) as follows:
" Our engine was on the low-pressure principle, con-
densing the steam, and the fires were made inside the
boilers. We had two boilers, laid on the bottom of
the boat. She was open hull, and was eighty feet
I keel and eleven feet beam. The water-wheel was
I only eight feet in diameter, and worked inside the
boat, the rudders being aft of it. ... I was second
I engineer, with Israel Gregg as captain." The boat
I started on her trip in December, 1815. Part of the
■ load was taken on at Bridgeport, and this having
been done, it was announced that she would take her
I departure the next morning; but no watchman was
kept on board, and during the night the river fell, so
; that her bow grounded at the bank, and her stern
I sunk and filled with water, so that several days more
elapsed before she could be raised and made ready
' again. This was finally accomplished, and she pro-
[ ceeded down the river without further accident to
Pittsburgh, wdiere she remained a few daj's, and then
I went on down the Ohio.

I At the mouth of Big Beaver the river was filled
with floating ice, and a furious gale sprung up, which
obliged Capt. Gregg to fie up to the shore, with the
intention of remaining only till the next morning,
but as the river fell ra;iidly during the night, he was
rompelleil I

ly there for about two weeks. At the
end of that time the ice disappeared, the weather be-
came good, and the "Dispatch" proceeded down the
river, but "struck on the bar at Wheeling, on the
island side, and having no niggers on board" [says
Mr. Rogers] "we were compelled to jump into the
river, full of floating ice as it was, and pay her off
with rails." From there no accident occurred until
the boat reached Walker's bar, below Cincinnati, and
there she stuck fa-st and remained for two weeks be-
fore the river rose suflSciently to float her off. Mr.
Rogers proceeds: "At Louisville Capt. Gregg left
the boat, leaving the engineer in command. I then
became first engineer, and had to clerk, as well as act
as steward, there being none on board." Passing from

i the Ohio into the Mississippi, the boat's company

i frequently saw Indians, who came down to the river-
bank and sold them venison. For fear of these sav-
ages they dared not run by night, but laid up, and
employed the hours of darkness in cutting wood for
the next day's fuel, as there was then no wood for

I sale along the river.

I Thus the entire winter was passed on the river, and
early in the spring of 1811) the "Dispatch" arrived at

' New Orleans. There she was boarded by Edward



Livingston, United States marslial of that district,
who notified the engineer in charge that he (Living-
ston) and Robert Fulton had the exclusive right to
navigate the waters of Louisiana with steamboats,
and they would not permit that right to be infringed.
But the master of the " Dispatch" pleaded igno-
rance of that fact, and promised to leave Louisiana
and not return, upon which he was permitted to
depart with the boat without prosecution.

But it would appear that they did not live up to
the agreement, for the journal says they " then took
in freight and passengers, and started for Alexandria,
at the rapids of the Red River," whence after dis-
charging they started on the return trip to Pittsburgh.
The boat was small and weak, and so made slow prog-
ress against the current of the Mississippi, though
some advantage was gained by her light draft of water,
on which account she " could run close in shore and
around the willow banks." Arriving at the Falls of
the Ohio the water was found to be low, so that the
boat was hauled by a slow and laborious process up
the rapids close into the Kentucky shore.

"It was late in the summer," says the journal,
" when we arrived at Pittsburgh, and our trip being so
long in making that we did not save any money. I
acted as clerk and first engineer on the trip from
Louisville to New Orleans and back to Pittsburgh.
On the whole route from New Orleans to Pittsburgh
we were not passed by a steamboat, nor did we meet
a boat on the Ohio. Tliere were then in existence
the following boats, ' New Orleans,' ' ^Etna,' 'Vesu-
vius,' and ' Buffalo,' on the Mississippi River. I do
not remember seeing any on the Ohio." And in
writing of a trip which he made two years later (1818)
down the Monongahela and Ohio on a flat-boat, Mr.
Rogers says, " I saw no steamboat from the time I
left Brownsville till I reached Louisville."

In 1825, Robert Rogers, Cephas Gregg, Abram
Kimber, and others built the steamboat " Reindeer."
She was built in John Cock's boat-yard, a short dis-
tance above where Mason Rogers & Co.'s flouring-
mill now stands, and was launched on Christmas-
day in the year mentioned. Upon her completion
she was placed under command of Capt. Abram
Kimber, and ran for some years on the Ohio, between
Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky.

About 1826, Abel Cofiin and Michael Miller com-
menced the building of keel-boats in Bridgeport on
an extended scale, and an almost incredible number
of them were turned out by these builders. John
Cock also built large numbers of them, and he as
well as Coffin and Miller built some steamboats. In
1827, Mr. Cock built for James May, of Pittsburgh,
the two Ohio River steamers, " Erie" and " Sham-
rock." Coffin and Miller built the "Reindeer" (sec-
ond of that name), the " Mountaineer," the " Cham-
pion" (Capt. Thomas Sloan), and many others.

John S. Pringle (now living in West Brownsville

at the age of about seventy-five years, and who has
been the builder of more boats than any other person
on the Monongahela River) came to this place from
the eastern part of the State in 1826. The first boat
on which he worked here was the " Highlander,"
built by Robert Rogers, on a spot opposite the saw-
mill on Water Street. John Herbertson also worked
on the same vessel. In the early part of 1828, John
S. Pringle built for Robert Rogers and Samuel Clarke
a flat-bottomed boat called the " Visitor," which ran
the following summer from Pittsburgh to Louisville,
and made a remarkable success, earning two thousand
dollars more than her entire cost during that one
season, and was then sold at two thousand dollars
advance on her cost. The success of this boat caused
the building of others of similar construction by Mr.
Pringle. He established a boat-yard where Mrs.
William Cock now lives. There he built a great
number of steamers and other river craft, continuing
in the business at that place till 1843, when he pur-
chased from Ephraim Blaine the site of his present
yard in West Brownsville. It is stated that Mr. Prin-
gle has built at his yards on both sides of the, river
more than five hundred steamboats, besides a great
number of barges and other small craft. He has not
unfrequently hud three or four steamer hulls on the
stocks at one and the same time. The largest boat
ever built by him was the " Illinois," three hundred
and eight feet long and seventy-two feet beam, which
was floated down the river on high water to Pitts-
burgh to receive her engines. Mr. Pringle built the
first tow-boat on the river, the "Coal Hill," and
afterwards built twenty-five more of the same model
and construction.


In or about the year 1810 Morris Truman with his
three sons, — Morris, Jr., Joseph, and James, — all
Quakers, came from Philadelphia to Bridgeport,
where they erected and put in operation works for
the manufacture of steel, where James j^ubrey now
lives. They afterwards built also a machine and en-
gine-shop where is now the brick house of Mr.
Dougherty. The precise date of the starting of the
steel-works is not known, but that they were in oper-
ation in the early part of 1811 is shown by a com-
munication found in the "Pittsburgh Magazine
Almanac" of that year, and of which the following
is a copy :

"Cross Cheek, Jiilj- 1, 1811.

" Messrs. Printers :

" I have been accustomed to makingvarious kinds
of edge tools for forty years, and have no hesitation
in pronouncing the steel made by Morris Truman &
Co. equal to any imported or made elsewhere.

"J. Marshall."

In the same Almanac for the year 1S13 it is men-
tioned that " the steel manufactory of Morris Tru-



man, which was started about eighteen months since, j
is doing well, and is capable of furnishing seventy ,
tons of good steel annually." The steel-works were
abandoned about the year 182.5. From their machine-
shop the Messrs. Truman turned out the engines of
the "Keindeer," the "Mountaineer," and other!
steamers, and did an extensive business in that line.
They were men of education and of great mechanical i
ability. Morris (Jr.) and Joseph Truman were bache-
lors, James was a justice of the peace for some years,
and all of the three brothers were at times members
of the Borough Council. They died in Bridgeport,
where niauy years of their lives were spent.


The old glass-works in Bridgeport were built and
put in operation in 1811' by a joint-stock company,
composed of John Troth, Henry Minehart, Isaac
Van Hook, and their associates. The works embraced
a main building about fifty-five feet square, and sev- •
eral smaller buildings near it, all located on the lots
afterwards occupied by the distillery of John Hop-
kins, and still later owned by Edward Toynbee.

The company and their successors continued the
manufacture of glass with varying success till about
1840. The works were rented for some years by
Benedict Kimber, who was very suecessi'ul, accumu-
lating a small fortune, which, however, he afterwards
lost in the building of boats. After his failure he
again ran the glass-works, but was not as successful
as before, and finally the works ceased to be used for
their original purpose. On the 4th of May, 1847,
8;iinucl B. Page transferred to the borough " the four
lots formerly held by the Bridgeport Glass- Works,"
for which he was released from all borough taxes fi)r
the period of ten years.

The formation of this company and the erection of
its cotton-factory in Bridgeport nearly seventy years
ago was promoted by the representations of Daniel
French, who came here from riiiladclphia about the
year 1811, and advocated his industrial schemes with
so much eiithusia-ni that the ]icopli> were induced to
subscribe lilicrally to eatrrprises lor manufacturing
and steamboating, as has been narrated on preced-
ing pages in an extract from the journal of Robert

The date of the commencement of work in the erec-
tion of the cotton-factory has not been ascertained,
but that it was before 1814 is shown by the following
extract from the " rittsliinL;li ^laLiazine Almanac"
for that year, referring to r.riil.i;( port, viz. : ". . . There
is also a large cotton-manufactory Imilding, in which

l.y ttie f

they intend to use steam-power ;" and also from an
advertisement by the company's manager, dated
" Bridgeport, August 15, 1814," and found in a news-
paper of that time. It announces to the public that
" the factory is nearly ready to go into operation,
which will be drove by steam, where we intend keep-
ing a constant supply of cotton yarn of various de-
scriptions, which we will sell at the most reduced
prices. And. in addition to the above, we have two
new wool-carding machines with first-rate cards, and
having engaged an experienced carder, we hope, from
our determined intentions to do our work with neat-
ness and dispatch, and at the usual prices, to merit a
share of the public patronage. (Signed) Enos Grove,
Manager of the Company."

The factory building was of stone, about fifty by
one hundred feet in ground dimensions, and four
stories high. It was completed at about the time
above indicated, but for some reason which does not
appear the company was not incorporated until

An act of the Legislature, approved February 8tli
in that year, incorporates '' The Bridgeport Manu-
facturing Company, ... for the purpose of manu-
facturing cotton and woolen goods, and who have
erected an establishment for that purpose in the
Borough of Bridgeport, in Fayette County;" the cap-
ital stock not to exceed $200,000, in shares of $500
each. The corporators were John Krepps, James
Tomlinson, Elisha D. Hunt, William Griffith, John
McClure Hezlip, Morris Truman, and Enos Grave.

The factory had been started with great expecta-
tions some time prior to the incorporation of the
company. "And when they were ready," says Mr.
Rogers' diary, " no one being experienced in run-
ning factory or steamboats, neither enterprise made
any money, but ran in debt, and the factory was sold
by the sheriff." After being operated for a time by
Mr. Grave for the company, it was run successively
by James Meek, of Greene County, James Hutchin-
son, Robert Burke, and others. After years of un-
profitable attempts to run it for the purpose for which
it was built it was abandoned as a cotton-factory, and
then, after some years of disuse, it was occupied as a
carriage-factory. Finally it was destroyed by fire,
and so ended the cotton-factory enterprise of Bridge-


A paper-mill, named as above by its proprietors,
Zephaniah Carter and Solomon G. Krepps, was built
by them on Water Street, Bridgeport, and put in
operation in 1832. Before the business had become
firmly established Krepps died, and his interest in the
mill was sold to Robert Clarke, whose advertisement,
announcing the purchase, and the continuance of
the business under the new proprietorship, also ex-
pressing his regret that an enterprise which gave such
good promise of success should have been checked so
soon after its commencement by the death of Mr.



Krepps, is found in the Washington Examiner, dated
November, 1833. The paper-mill continued in oper-
ation for a number of years, but finally the business
was abandoned, and the building .sold, in 1857, to
Mason Rogers & Co., who converted it intoaflouring-
mill, which is still operated by them.


The first machine-shop of Bridgeport was that of
Daniel French, who (as has been already mentioned
in an extract given from the journal of Robert Rogers)
came from Philadelphia to the mouth of Dunlap's
Creek about the year 1811. He was a man full of
mechanical ideas, and a practical machinist. Mr.
James L. Bowman, in an article written for and pub-
lished in the American Pioneer in 1843, said, " The
facility of obtaining iron and the abundance of bitu-
minous coal for working it caused the establishment
of various manufactories in this section. Among
them we may name that of a steam-engine shop, under
the direction of Daniel French, in Bridgeport, from
which emanated an engine which was put on board the
hull of the steamer ' Enterprise' in 1814." The engine
of the " Dispatch," twin-boat wiih the " Enterprise,"
was built in the same shop. Mr. French was the in-
ventor of the oscillating cylinder for engines. He
left Bridgeport about 1820, and went to Jeftersonville,
Ind., where his sons became extensive boat-builders,
and where he was still living in 1872.

Between 1825 and 1830, John Krepps, and others
associated with him, started a foundry where now is
the residence of Thomas Cock. While run by them
the foundry was under charge of William Cock as
foreman. Afterwards he ran it on his own account ;
then it was rented by him to Culbertson & Rowe, who
carried it on for two or three years, and in 1835 it was
rented by John Snowdon, who had taken the contract
to furnish the castings for the iron bridge then about
to be built across Dunlap's Creek. The metal was
furnished by the government, and the castings were
made in the old foundry by the contractor, Snowdon.
This was the last casting done at these works.

The present foundry and machine-shop business of ,
Herbertson & Co. was started in 1838 by John Her-
bertson and Thomas Faull, the former having been
the superintendent of Snowdon's foundry when the
castings were made for the Dunlap's Creek bridge.
The mason-work of the Faull & Herbertson foundry
was done by Thomas Butcher. In 1842 the partner-
ship between Herbertson and Faull was dissolved,
the former continuing the business. The establish-
ment was at first but a small one, but extensions and
improvements have been made from time to time,
and the manufacture of machinery has been added to
the original foundry business, until the works have
been brought to their present capacity. A specialty
is now made in the manufacture of marine and sta-

tionary engines. The present firm of Herbertson &
Co. is composed of John Herbertson, G. S. Herbert-
son, W. H. Herbertson (the latter two sons of John
Herbertson), W. H. Ammon, and A. C. Cock.

FauH's foundry, located between Water Street and
the river, and above the Monument Mills, was started
by Thomas Faull soon after he retired from the part-
nership with John Herbertson. His son now carries
on the business.


These mills are situated on Water Street, Bridge-
port, on the eastern bank of the Monongahela River.
The building was erected in the year 1832 by Zepha-
niah Carter and Solomon G. Krepps, and by them
and others operated as a paper-mill for a number of
years. In 1857 it was purchased by Mason Rogers
& Co., and converted into a merchant flouring- and
grist-mill, and it is still running on that work. The
motive-i)c)wer of the mill is a forty horse-power steam-
engine, which drives three run of stones. The mill
has a capacity of about forty barrels of flour per d.ay.


These flouring-mills, owned and operated by W.
H. Miller, are located on Dunlap's Creek, about
three-fourths of a mile above and outside of the
borough limits, yet they properly belong with the
manufacturing industries of Bridgeport. The Pros-
pect Mills are on or very near the site of the ancient
grist-mill built by Rees Cadwallader before the com-
mencement of the present century. After Cadwalla-
der, the property passed to other hands, and was at
one time owned by Rogers & Truman, by whom it
was sold to William Miller. The old dam, originally
built by Cadwallader, was used for the later mills
until within a few years, when a new one was built
by Mr. Miller, father of the present proprietor of the


The flouring- and grist-mills known by the above
name are located on Dunlap's Creek, a short dis-
tance below and within the borough line, and were
built in 1834 by Samuel G. Krepps, who operated them
for many years. Subsequently the property passed
tlirough several hands, and in 1867 was purchased by
Eli Leonard, who ran the mills for about ten years.
They are now owned and o]>erated by Snyder &


The saw-mill of Harvey Leonard is on Dunlap's
Creek, at the point where the borough line strikes
that stream, a short distance above the Valley Mills,
and at or very near the spot where Jonah Cadwalla-
der's saw-mill stood in 1814 (the descriptions of the
lines of the boroughs of Bridgeport and Brownsville,
erected in that year, making "Jonah Cadwallader's
mill-dam" a point of departure from Dunlap's Creek).
The water which is used to propel both Leonard's


s.iw-mill and Valley Mills, below it, is still taken
from the creek at tlie place where Cadwallader
erected his mill-dam seventy years ago.

The saw-mill and planing-mill of Gibbons, Wood
& Criimlow, situated on AVater Street and Cherry
Alley, is one (and by no means the least important)
of the industrial establishments of Bridgeport.

Dr. Jesse Fennel was born of Quaker parents in
Philadelphia, Sept. 5, 1772. He received a liberal
education, afterwards studying medicine and attend-
ing lectures in the Medical Department of the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania. A certificate, of which the
following is a correct copy, is still possessed by his
daughter. Miss Susan Pennel, of Pittsburgh:

" This is to certify that Jesse Pennel h.ith attended a course
of my lectures on the Institutes of Medicine, and on Clinical
Cases, with diligence and punctuality,

'■BENJ^■. Rush, M.D.,
" Pro/cKmr of tie above l.ranchex of Medkine i„ the I'uherdt'j

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 108 of 193)